Everywhere you look these days you see someone going “green”. Car makers are developing solar powered cars, people are practicing water conservation and recycling services are common place in many states. Everyone seems eager to do their part. But it is true that some cities are moving faster than others and there are areas where recycling is still not offered and people everywhere who haven’t even thought about it. But the cities and peoples who have gone above and beyond in “going green” deserve some recognition.

In my search online to discover which cities rate highest, I saw that everyone from Treehugger to MSN, from Mother Nature Network to Move have done a rating of their own, based on available data. What I did was obtain data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Green Building Council and the National Geographic Society’s “Green Guide” to compile my own. These findings are varied in some ways but overall pretty consistant. You will see each of these cities somewhere on everyone’s list. My list is based on everyone’s research of each cities’ resource conservation, waste emissions, public transportation use, recycling habits, number of eco friendly buildings and overall green space offered to determine which one goes where on the scale of 1 to 10. However, you could not go wrong by moving to any one of these lovely places, as they are definitely way ahead of the rest of us.

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Earlier this month, President Barack Obama ordered our Government to lead by example on climate change matters, to cut consumption of fuel and improve water use efficiency. I think this is a first, however, those of you who know otherwise are welcome to comment and give examples. But I think this is a much needed push on the part of our President in bringing conservation back into the mindset of America. We call ourselves conservatives and then we consume and trash like drunken sailors. It’s time to walk the walk.

In his demand, he wanted federal departments to cut their fuel consumption by 30% and to improve their water use efficiency by 26%. This appears to be an immediate goal with a 90 day limit for the development of an overall plan for long term targets. In fact, he requires all federal agencies to set firm 2020 targets to cut their greenhouse gas emissions within that 90 day window. As much as you hear the pigs squealing, this is very liberal and tolerant and allows them to squirm off with their usual wheeling and dealing and I am not sure it will make a whit of difference. It seems all that many Americans care about is who is sleeping with whom but damn if they care if the baby goes out with the bathwater. I apologize but a lot of people piss me off. Barack Obama pisses me off. The time has long passed for people to wake up and smell the coffee and still they keep dreaming. Who out there smells it? The world is on fire, fools.

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Now, here’s the thing. I’ve always wondered if the solutions to all these problems might be simple. After all, that’s the way it works in my own life; I spend endless hours and energy running through mazes and jumping through hoops only to discover that the solution was down a straight and simple path. Perhaps this is what we are doing to ourselves in the matter of planetary warming. Perhaps there is a lot of money in making it complicated. And be it not me who would deny people work and income. Yet, I can’t help but think about something I heard.

The sad part about our abilities to move ahead on this problem is the global economic crisis, which has taken precedence. The cost of proposed green initiatives is becoming a huge factor as world governments consider drafting environmental policies. This shift in priorities was evident in the last round of U.N. climate talks in Poland. After a full two weeks of negotiation, it looked as if participants were no closer to consensus on the terms of the treaty that will replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol. The current treaty, created in 1992, requires most developed nations to reduce their carbon emissions. But, currently, overall cost is one of the main reasons for this persistent stalemate on emissions caps.

But there was one interesting solution presented. The IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) issued a report that notes that if governments worked to exploit the natural capacity of forests to absorb carbon dioxide and deliberately aimed to increase the carbon sink that forests create, as much as 40 to 50% of human carbon emissions could be offset. I think this is fantastic and should be done like now. Please refer to my previous post on carbon sinks. Still, to my mind, the even more astounding fact is that this extraordinary possibility has been largely ignored.

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Many of us have experienced the frustration of having a cell phone or MP3 player go dead and being away from a power outlet to charge the batteries. Actually, this isn’t a solely current problem, either, as I recall listening to “dragging” cassette players and static hazed radios many years ago, when I used battery chargers and rechargeable batteries. Being caught on a 10 mile hike with a dead radio is a big drag. This is where portable solar is making big inroads and offering relief. Even if you’re not a big techno nerd with a boombox on your shoulder or an MP3 plug in your ear, you may have concerns about getting off the grid or just saving money on batteries in general. Even you should consider portable solar. Thanks to technology improvements and lower production costs for photovoltaic (PV) cells, you can now harness sunlight at home or on the road to power a variety of products while reducing your environmental impact at the same time.

PV cells generate varying amounts of electricity based on their size and composition, and on the amount of incoming sunlight. Even so there are a lot of products for which sunlight provides a viable and affordable alternative power source and these are already available on the market. If you haven’t purchased one yet or maybe even haven’t even shopped these items, here is a brief list of what I found available today:

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Everyday choices are the foundation of our energy usage and financial expenses. You already know that if you make wise choices in the grocery or department store you can save money and get what you want. The same is true of energy choices. You don’t have to go without air in the heat of the day or stop using your dryer. Although cutting back when it’s least painful is not a bad idea. If you are motivated to get this done, then I have some suggestions.

The government website, Energy Awareness, offers a number of materials and resources. When you go there, ask for the CD Rom “Power Kit of Energy Awareness Resources,” which is instructional and helpful in the real world. They also offer a book, “Go Green”, which gives some great ideas for saving energy.

In a nutshell, here’s what they suggest (with a few of my own thrown in):
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I admit that I had not thought about this matter in a while and wasn’t planning to discuss it here on the seed. But when it came to my attention lately I recalled the problems we have had here in Florida with the sea turtles on the beach. It was a horrible thing that happened when people were leaving their lights on along the beach during the turtle hatches. The poor baby turtles were running backwards, up onto the sea oats, towards city lights instead of the light of the moon on the water, and getting lost in the sand rather than running towards the ocean. Since that time, years ago, it has been a common practice here to leave lights out along the beach during the hatches. I am not sure if it is a law, however I do know that everybody just does it.

Lately came this study from a group of ecologists, biologists and biophysicists that has since been published in the journal, “Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment”. In this study they came to the conclusion that manmade light sources alter the natural light cycle and can cause animals that rely on light cues to make dangerous mistakes when moving through their environment. Although I don’t think they really needed this study, seeing that we had come to this conclusion years back on the beaches as I just noted, but I am glad I saw it because it brought it back to my attention.

Also currently discovered is that, in addition to direct light sources, this same problem occurs with polarized light. In fact, polarized light can trigger animal behaviors that lead to injury and often death. What is commonly called “light pollution” is artificial light from whatever source that occurs at unnatural times or places. This can attract or repel animals, resulting in animals migrating in the wrong direction, choosing poorly placed nests, choosing the wrong mates, increasing predatory activity out of fear or disorientation. Also possible are collisions with structures as a result of light blindness and stopping the search for food in the belief that morning has come when it hasn’t. All of this confusion is deleterious to animal security and safety, making them vulnerable in places and under conditions where they normally would be safe.

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From The Ocean Project:

The world’s oceans cover more than 70% of our planet’s surface and the rich web of life they support is the result of hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Nomadic peoples were collecting shellfish and harvesting fish long before the dawn of settled agriculture. Great human civilizations, from the Egyptians to the Polynesians relied on the sea for commerce and transport, and now, at the end of the Twentieth Century, our fate is as tied to the oceans as ever. We still rely on fish for a significant portion of our daily protein needs, and more than $500 billion of the world’s economy is tied to ocean-based industries such as coastal tourism and shipping. Perhaps most important, this vast mass of water acts to help regulate the global climate and to ensure that a constant flow of vital nutrients is cycled throughout the biosphere.

But all is not well in the sea. Increased pressures from overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and the introduction of invasive alien species have combined in recent decades to threaten the diversity of life in estuaries, coastal waters and oceans. Now a new threat, global warming, is making itself felt, and its impacts could be devastating for life in the sea.

There can be no doubt that our world is getting warmer. 1998 was the hottest year since accurate records began in the 1840s, and ten of the hottest years have occurred during the last 15 years. By examining growth rings from trees and ice cores drilled in Antarctica, scientists have determined that the past decade was the warmest in more than four centuries, and that the current rate of warming is probably unprecedented in at least 10,000 years. In 1992, the more than 2500 scientists comprising the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that the warming is caused at least in part by emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel use. As the world warms, the outlook for marine wildlife looks bleak unless we can turn down the heat by reducing concentrations of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere.

The startling changes already beginning to affect marine life may turn out to be merely the tip of iceberg. Global warming is predicted to worsen rapidly, with average annual temperatures expected to increase by about 3 degrees C by the middle of the next century. Changes of this speed and magnitude could set off a chain reaction in marine ecosystems with truly appalling consequences for life in the sea and for human communities that depend on it. However, if we act now to reduce carbon pollution from the dirtiest power stations and from vehicle exhausts, we stand a good chance of slowing the warming and helping to save a healthy ocean for future generations.

To read more about this serious issue, go to: The Facts .

To sign a petition for the U.N. to designate this day, June 8, as World Oceans Day worldwide go HERE .


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